Phil Taylor insists he will knuckle down to even more practice in a bid to stem the growing threat to his dominance from Raymond van Barneveld.
The 13-times world champion last night suffered his second televised defeat in three weeks to the Dutchman, who is showing what all the fuss was about when he joined the Professional Darts Corporation amid much publicity in February.
Just as he had at the Budweiser UK Open in Bolton last month, Van Barneveld got the better of a deciding leg against Taylor to reach the final of the PartyPoker.net Las Vegas Desert Classic.
And it could be construed as a measure of how concerned ‘The Power’ is about the challenge to his supremacy that he missed double 14 to win it, having wasted three match darts at the Reebok Stadium competition.
But while Taylor acknowledges ‘Barney’ is breathing new life into the PDC scene, he is also determined to ensure he remains top dog for a while yet.
“It was a great match between us again but I’ll be back,” said the 45-year-old from Stoke, who has reinquished two major titles as a result of his defeats to the former postman from The Hague.
“Raymond has been great for the game since he joined the PDC and has given me fresh enthusiasm.
“I know I must practise harder and I’ll do that because I know I can get better.”
Van Barneveld, a four-time world champion under the auspices of the rival British Darts Organisation, will add the Las Vegas crown to the UK Open he has already captured if he can overcome John Part in the final.
“I can’t describe how happy I am to have beaten Phil in the last two tournaments,” said the 39-year-old. “It shows I am capable of beating him.”
At least Taylor has the knowledge that his new adversary cannot complete a hat-trick at the next big event, the Stan James World Matchplay in Blackpool later this month.
Due to being a recent addition to the PDC ranks Van Barneveld has to pre-qualify for the major tournaments this year – and has failed to book a place in Blackpool.